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to attention in two rigid ranks. 'As wise as Sech Kattak is, on this point he is sadly mistaken.'

Durhan paced in front of the initiates, looking to the combat arena like it was a holy temple. 'The importance of what you will learn in this place is without measure. The very nature of the Anla'shok means we face great dangers and powerful enemies, and without the knowledge I will give you in this arena, you will die on your first mission.' He paused to let that thought linger in the room.

'For most of you, these lessons will be difficult. For some, impossible.' He made a point of staring along a line of human trainees. 'And for those of you who are worthy enough:' Durhan lifted his hand, allowing a shaft of metal to spring from his palm. In the blink of an eye he was holding a five-foot-long fighting pike. Vance recognised the fabled denn'bok immediately. His stomach churned at the thought of using the legendary weapon of the Minbari elite.

'But this is for another day.' As quickly as it had appeared, the denn'bok vanished into Durhan's palm. 'Pair up. We will see what you are capable of.'

Obediently, the trainees began to gather in twos. Vance looked to his left and right, but his neighbours had both already picked their partners. He quickly looked around for William, or even Jerklenn, but they too had partners of their own. Vance turned, about to announce to Durhan that he had no one to pair with, when the leering figure of Merreck stepped up to him.

Vance was silent, not even nodding his acknowledgment of Merreck's unspoken challenge. If this was what the Minbari wanted, then he would get it. He'd show this alien what EarthForce was made of.

'One pair at a time will enter the combat area.' Durhan gestured to the circular area at the front of the hall.
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